The Authors Guild Foundation Announces the Fourth Annual Breakout Writers Prize for Undergraduate and Graduate Students in Conjunction with Epiphany Magazine

Winners receive a cash prize, publication, and a year-long writing mentorship.

The Fourth Annual Breakout Writers Prize brings visibility to the creators of our future by honoring and supporting outstanding college and graduate student writers. Winners have gone on to get agents, publish books, and discover new careers in publishing. Submissions close on November 1.

Four writers, two in prose and two in poetry, will receive:

  • Publication in the fall/winter 2021 Breakout issue of Epiphany
  • A $1000 cash prize each
  • A year-long mentorship, including an additional short manuscript review, with Epiphany's editor-in-chief Rachel Lyon
  • A one-year membership with the Authors Guild
  • A one-year subscription to Epiphany

Submission Guidelines:
Candidates must have been enrolled in an accredited university, at least part-time, for the academic years 2020 or 2021. The prize is open to both graduate and undergraduate students; students need not be enrolled in an MFA or creative writing program.

Applications should be submitted by individual writers. Interested applicants must submit a creative manuscript and a “Statement of Interest,” which includes the manuscript title, the author’s enrollment status, the name of college or university attended, and an email address and telephone number for the department head of the student’s program of study or academic advisor, if applicable. 

Prose manuscripts may consist of one short story, a novel excerpt, or a work of creative nonfiction, not to exceed 5,000 words. Poetry manuscripts may include up to five poems. The author’s name should not appear on the creative manuscript. Please number all pages of the manuscript, include the manuscript title, and use a 12-point font. 


This Year's Guest Judges:

Nadia Owusu is a Ghanaian and Armenian-American writer and urbanist. Her first book, Aftershocks, topped many most-anticipated and best book of the year lists, including The New York TimesThe Oprah MagazineVogue, TIMEVulture, and the BBC. It was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. 

Nadia is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Times, Orion, Epiphany, Granta, The Paris Review Daily, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, and others. 

By day, Nadia is Director of Storytelling at Frontline Solutions, a Black-owned consulting firm working for justice and liberation in partnership with philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. She teaches creative writing at the Mountainview MFA program and lives in Brooklyn. 

Shane McCrae’s most recent books are Sometimes I Never Suffered, shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Rilke Prize, and The Gilded Auction Block, both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He has received a Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.


Epiphany is a semiannual literary journal and independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) that supports practicing writers at every stage of their careers. During open reading periods Epiphany considers every submission seriously. They also publish online essays, fiction, and poetry on a rolling basis. For 18+ years they have published work that transcends convention and demonstrates literary mastery. The name derives from the Joycean idea that an epiphany is the moment when “the soul of the commonest object… seems to us radiant.” Like the semicolon in their logo, an epiphany is a pause in time followed by a shift in thinking.

The Authors Guild Foundation is the charitable and educational arm of the Authors Guild. It educates, supports, and protects American writers to ensure that a rich, diverse body of literature can flourish. It does this by advocating for authors’ rights, educating authors across the country in the business of writing, and promoting an understanding of the value of writers.